• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Lagos targets local production of 1m electricity meters in 4 years

electricity meters

Lagos State government is seeking partnerships that will deliver the local production of between 600,000 and 1 million electricity meters to meet the needs of citizens and address challenges associated with estimated billing.

Olalere Odusote, commissioner for energy and mineral resources, in an interview with BusinessDay states that the Eko Innovation Centre (with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources as title sponsors) is promoting efforts to provide affordable meters to the populace by facilitating a meter design Hackathon (a bidding competition) to improve energy distribution, monitoring and preventing revenue leakage.

“On the campaign trail there were two big issues that Lagosians complained the most about; it was traffic and transportation and lack of constant supply of electricity. So, instead of putting up big electricity projects that may or may not be completed, we decided to target where the problems are, to invest in those areas because our job is to solve problems. What the governor has said in his wisdom is that as much as possible we should meter all Lagosians over the next four years,” Odusote says.

The programme that will see design teams produce hardware and software designs for meters has kindled the interest of local engineers, bankers and local meter assembling firms who are now in talks with the government on how to scale scheme and replicate it across Nigeria.

The combined winning team comprising software and hardware design teams will be awarded N7 million and a percentage of the intellectual property royalties from the winning solution.

“Since we opened the meter portal, we have received a total of 51 hardware teams that have registered and 58 software teams have registered to participate in the hackathon. Eleven teams have submitted their prototype designs and 9 teams on the software side have submitted their designs,” the commissioner states.

The initial plan of the scheme was to design a prototype that would be taken to China to mass produce and eventually develop capacity locally to scale production across Nigeria, but the Covid-19 has compelled the government to boldly seek initiatives to manufacture locally, he notes.

At the current cost of over N44,000 for a single-phase meter, it will cost an estimated N44 billion to provide enough meters to meet the Lagos State metering gap, which the commissioner puts at approximately 1 million.

However, the state is hopeful that the designs will deliver smart meters that will cost at least half of the current cost. One way the state is trying to keep costs down is, if designs reach the stage of mass production, by partnering with companies that manufacture components.

According to Odusote, the state government is already working to revive El Sewedy Electrical Nigeria Limited, a transformer and other electrical component manufacturer, a joint venture between Lagos State government and the EL Sewedy Group of Cairo, Egypt, located at Toga-Zanmu in Badagry.

The El Sewedy factory was commissioned in October 2010 by the administration of Babatunde Fashola with an installed capacity for 1,400 transformers per annum. The factory, which was planned to expand into the production of electrical meters, however, shut down operations after a few years.

Metering is a thorny issue in Nigerian electricity supply industry. According to a report by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), of the 10,374,597 registered electricity customers, only 3,918,322 (37.77%) have been metered as at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019.

Thus, 62.37 percent of the registered electricity customers are still on estimated billing, which has contributed to customer apathy towards payment for electricity, the commission said.

In 2018, NERC began a Meter Asset Provider programme to allow third-party investors provide meters for customers at a fee but the levy and the foreign exchange challenges hamper the project.

According to NERC, only 22,825 end-use customers’ meters were installed during the fourth quarter of 2019, a significant fall from the 83,768 meters installed during the third quarter. If the programme succeeds, the Lagos government is looking to replicate it across Nigeria.